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The €1million annual salary Cheslin Kolbe will earn at Toulon

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

Coveted Springboks World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe is poised to hit the financial jackpot with his imminent switch from Toulouse to Top 14 rivals Toulon, French media reporting that Bernard Lemaitre is willing to pay the soon-to-be 28-year-old an annual salary of €1million after they buy out the remainder of his contract at the recent league/Champions Cup double winners.

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What was expected to be a quiet non-matchweek for the Springboks after their glut of matches versus the Lions and Argentina detonated on the back of a Monday night rumour which emerged from the UK claiming that Kolbe was being courted by Toulon about a move even though he was contracted at Toulouse until 2023.

It sounded outlandish but the speculation quickly grew legs and it wasn’t long before Lemaitre hinted that a deal was all but done for a type of costly signing that Toulon had stated last year would no longer be their style, their current preference instead being to recruit players whose contribution wouldn’t be affected by Test rugby commitments. 

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Kolbe flew out to Australia from Cape Town on Thursday ahead of the Springboks’ four remaining Rugby Championship matches, a trip that will be followed by November Test matches in Europe versus Wales, Scotland and England on successive weekends. 

That type of absence was too much for Toulouse to feel they were getting sufficient bang for their expensive buck and Toulon have now stepped into the breach even though it won’t be until December at the earliest that the swashbuckling winger would be available to play for them. 

Not only are Toulon reportedly willing to agree on a basic annual salary of €1million they will also spend €1.8million in buying out the remaining years of Kolbe’s current contract with Toulouse, the club with whom he has won two French league titles and a European Cup since his arrival there in 2017.

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Var Matin is the local go-to media in France for all things Toulon rugby and Lemaitre all but confirmed the probable arrival of Kolbe without specifically naming the player when quoted in their columns on Thursday. “We promised ourselves that we would now be less dependent on the internationals because we paid a heavy price last season. In those cases, we make an exception for an exceptional player.”

The contract buy out fee isn’t included in the French league’s salary cap but making room to accommodate Kolbe’s salary in the cap is on Lemaitre’s to-do list. “It is an important operation and not easy to carry out,” he admitted, but it didn’t sound like a deal-stopping obstacle. “It was a very exceptional opportunity after all, especially as you needed a match-winner in the back lines. For an average player, you wouldn’t have done it.”

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